Most believe bigotry to be a word from the past – a concept considered only in history class amidst discussions on slavery and the Holocaust. Truth be told, bigotry is alive and thriving all over the world, through genocide in Sudan, Israeli-Palestinian tensions, and anti-homosexual legislature here in the U.S, to name a few examples.
As defined by the FBI uniform report, a hate crime is basically an illegal act motivated by a bias towards the victims race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or national origin.
But in the words of David Higdon, its much more. When the neo-Nazi found guilty of beating Phillip Walstead, a gay man, to death with a baseball bat in Arizona back in 2002 said, “I will kill for my beliefs,” he embodied the movement many hate-crime-committers fight for.
Its time for our generation to wake up and realize this is happening everywhere- not just in that civil rights movie playing on the history channel. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), out of almost 7,500 (reported) hate crimes in 2003 half were racially motivated.
“Racial and ethnic tensions are still very relevant to modern American society,” explained Joanne Kaufman, assistant professor of criminology in the University of Miamis Department of Sociology.
FBI stats show that Jews are the main targets of hate crimes driven by religious biases. Hate crimes committed based on sexual orientation passed the thousand-mark back in 1995.
“The groups affected have shifted over time but much of the bias is still against African-Americans,” Kaufman said.
Contrary to the popular image of 50-year-olds wearing white sheets as the primary offenders, many attackers are young adults expressing their hate through racism and rock music.
Otherwise known as skinheads, these neo-Nazis are pledging their hatred for minorities, particularly blacks and Jews, through white-power bands like Blue-Eyed Devils, Brutal Attack, and Angry Aryans, who are often found singing lyrics like “Browntown burning down/Negro in flames rolling on the ground.”
Lyrics are just one aspect, but like most organized movements, these white supremacists are organized, with many meetings already scheduled for the upcoming months across the nation, according to ADL.
There are ways to stop the hating. As UM Sociology Professor specializing in race and ethnic relations and lawyer Moneque Pickett suggested, “educating people to understand similarities, and not differences among us, and especially teaching the youth” is key. “Encouraging our politicians to pass better legislation also helps.”
Other peace-promoters include economic and school programs to provide more jobs and focus on the importance of diversity in primary and secondary education.
In 2003, the Black Eyed Peas asked, “Wheres the love?” Show them by taking a stand. Stop the Hate.